Like everything in summer, wine drinking is easy. As the leaves start to change colors, sweater weather is contemplative, and there is pumpkin-spice everything, it’s time to transition you’re drinking. Like stepping stones between seasons, summer-to-fall wines are some of the most interesting. Allowing you to cling to the last days of summer, whites become more complex and rich while reds slowly emerge from the shadows, giving you that early autumn feel.
As if there’s a built-in cozy meter waiting for the first wave of crisp air, people rediscover their ovens, and you no longer find yourself plopping an ice cube in your Chardonnay; wines should reflect the taste and feel of the season.
Here are our top 5 red and white wines for early fall drinking:
Perched above the deep, frigid waters of Monterey Bay, with warm clear days and cold foggy nights, grape growers and winemakers alike relish the Santa Lucia Highlands region. Balanced with a velvety texture, this 2014 Pinot Noir has notes of black cherry, raspberry, black pepper, and soothing jasmine tea— perfect for relaxing on a chilly evening.
Delicate and light on its feet, this 2015 Mourvèdre is the perfect introduction to fall. At 99% Mourvèdre and 1% Grenache, this medium-bodied red encompasses the aromatics of red fruit balanced with earthy notes. With mild tannins, bursts of acidity still shine through refreshing the palate— it’s your best buddy for a late-summer BBQ.
You know the smell of freshly baked apple pie or a crackling fireplace? That’s Syrah in a glass. Bursting with mouthwatering fruit flavors and a wisp of smoke, this light-bodied red is a great choice for the lighter style of Syrah. A representative of the Fair Play AVA marked with warm, dry conditions and prompted by elevations reaching 2,400 feet; this 2014 Syrah is complex yet smooth. Dust off your cast iron pots and pans, and pair this wine with a roasted leg of lamb— don’t be afraid to play with the spice rack for this one.
If you’re a “Chardonnay all day, all year” person, this is the wine for you. Enhance the fruity whites you’ve been knocking back all summer with the dreamy flavors of juicy yellow apple, spice, and buttered toast. Slightly richer, this Chardonnay will make the summer-to-fall transition a little easier. Open a bottle after carving pumpkins and curl up by the fire— there’s nothing better.
Lighter, brighter, and less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2013 Cabernet Franc is quite possibly the only wine you need to take with you from summer to fall. Famous for its full body and natural acidity, the flavors of berries and dark chocolate with ripe plum and leather on the nose embodies fall in a bottle.
While there aren’t any pumpkin flavored wines that we know of (let’s keep it that way), there are countless wines that go perfectly with the season. Remember, rich, smooth, and warming is the way to go. However, in selecting wines for transitioning into fall, discovering and experimenting is half of the fun.
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